The environment in which you find yourself can make all the difference between really struggling with ADHD and thriving. Although it is impossible to control all aspects of our environment we should aim to be aware of it and cut out as many negative impacts as possible.

By environments we mean everything from your home life, your work/study situation, your friends and family and all the people you find yourself surrounded by on a regular basis. Overwhelm and emotional dysregulation are both common occurrences for ADHDers and being in the ‘wrong’ environment can really contribute to both.

In ADHD 2.0 Drs Ratey and Hallowell say that there are five areas of our environment that we should focus on – daily structure, nutritionsleep, populate your world with positivity and accept and find the right help. We have covered some of these in other sections but we will go into more detail about the others below. In Taking Charge of Adult ADHD Russell Barkley says that “shaping your environment will help you manage your ADHD”. We will layout how he suggests we do this below. 


“These tips will help you change your mindset about what an organized home should look like, and encourage you to get started.”

In TAKING CHARGE OF ADULT ADHD Russell Barkley says “there is a lot you can do to control the environments in which you live so that they do meet your needs:

You can choose to operate in environments where you stand the best chance of success.

  • can’t deal with a pencil-pushing, number-crunching job? Aim for jobs that capitalize on your personality, your physical energy, or your gregarious nature.

You can surround yourself with people who help you play up your strengths and support your efforts to compensate for weaknessess.

  • if members of your family of origin always expect the worst from you, keep your distance for a while… and then go back to the family gatherings once you’ve got a track record that proves you’re a trustworthy adult.

You can find the best resources available for those with ADHD and then use them, use them, use them.

  • there is more out there for ADHD than almost any other mental health condition that affects adults”  e.g. books, websites, coaches, therapy, podcasts etc.

Populate your world with positivity

Drs Ratey & Hallowell say “Other people are part of your environment too, and you can only minimally control their actions or outlooks. But you can choose who you’ll allow into your world and, to a degree, who you will spend time with. So choose wisely.”

“Steer clear of the people who bring you down, who gossip, who are predominantly cynical and negative. What you want to avoid is people who drain you of all your positive energy. Notice how you feel after you leave a person.”

“Helping adults thrive in relationships impacted by ADHD – Melissa Orlov and Dr. Ned Hallowell’s blog about marriage when one or both spouses has ADHD. What is it like? What are common themes in marriages with ADHD? What strategies can be used to improve these relationships? How can struggling couples get their marriages back on track so both partners can thrive?”


“Over half of our subjects described some aspect of their ADHD as contextual, reporting a connection between specific environments and symptoms such as restlessness, boredom, changes in focus, and interest levels. Many noticed that while certain environments amplified these difficulties, others seemed to make them disappear. This led them to believe that their symptoms could be mitigated by selecting environments that were a good ‘fit.'”


This article makes an interesting point about some adults no longer meeting the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis after having received a childhood diagnosis:

“By expanding our understanding of ADHD beyond the brain, we can begin to investigate the contexts in which individuals with ADHD function best—not simply where they fail to succeed. When individuals stop meeting full criteria as adults, it’s not necessarily that their biology has fundamentally changed; their propensity to struggle in under-stimulating environments may remain. Rather, their decreased symptoms might be understood as arising from an interaction between their biological tendencies and the new, more stimulating environments in which they find themselves. Rather than reinforcing a false dichotomy between biology and context, we need to incorporate both to more fully understand ADHD.”

The stimulating environment:

  • Stress and challenge

  • Novelty and multitasking

  • Busy and fast-paced

  • Physical labour

  • Hands-on work and active learning

  • Intrinsic interest

  • Difficult environments


ADHD is considered a disability in the UK and therefore your school / college or place of work must make “reasonable adjustments” to support you. 

The Scottish ADHD Coalition have compiled a Guide to ADHD in the Workplace, which contains information about ‘reasonable adjustments’ for ADHD.